His home, a 500 square metre building in Christchurch, is on the larger side, with three hot water cylinders and underfloor heating. His electricity bills from his previous retailer averaged somewhere between $800 and $1000 per month, despite using more than 50 percent of his electricity during off-peak hours when wholesale power is at its cheapest.
Ian had accepted that to save any money with a fixed price plan, he’d have to cut back on his power usage (which is not ideal for any family heading into the cooler months!).
That is, until he discovered Flick Electric: a Wellington-based and locally owned power company that passes on the wholesale spot price of electricity, and gives Kiwis access to live price information, so they can choose to use power when the cost is low.
The Flick model means that families can make significant savings without changing the way they use their power, because the spot price of electricity is, on average, much lower than the set prices of traditional fixed plan models. For Ian and his family, who have their hot water cylinders set on a timer for the wee hours of the morning, savings have been huge – utilising those off-peak hours and low prices mean they’ve been able to save thousands.
“Often I go in [to the app] just to have a look and see the spot price is 7.3 or 7.5c (per kwh] – the cheapest we used to get before was 20c,” he says. “There’s not much of a downside to saving that sort of money.”
Although Ian has not yet experienced a wholesale price spike as a Flick customer (price spikes only occur, on average, 0.2 percent of the time), he knows that one of the advantages about being with Flick is that he’s not locked into a contract. So if he decides Flick is not the electricity retailer for him, he’s free to leave at any stage.
So, how can you make like Ian and ensure you’re not overpaying for power?
Check out Powerswitch to see whether you’re getting the best deal for your area. And don’t be fooled by set prices or fees. Flick CEO Steve O’Connor says many people are paying a significant premium for that certainty, compared to what else is on offer. “You insure your house and car against disaster but do you need to insure your power bill? You’re paying a large premium for that.” The average saving for Flick customers over the past year has been $489 (March 2017).
If you’re with an electricity provider that offers wholesale prices or lower rates at night, something as simple as setting your appliances (and that heated towel rail!) on timers can make a big difference. Check out your local hardware store, or visit the Wemo site for devices that can be controlled from your mobile.
Using an efficient shower head will mean you can have showers that are just as long but don’t use as much hot water – which is a big component of power bills. “To check the flow rate of your shower, put a 10 litre bucket under the shower – if it fills in less than a minute at normal showering temperature, your shower head is wasting water. An efficient shower head has a flow rate of nine litres per minute, or less. Even reducing the flow rate by one litre per minute could save a household of three around $80 per year,” said EECA Energywise technical expert Christian Hoerning.
LED lightbulbs are another great way to cut your power bill without having to sit in the dark, and can save you $100 a year or more. And if you’re in the process of upgrading appliances, consider buying ones that are energy-efficient.
When you switch an appliance off, turn it off at the wall instead of using standby. Hoerning says, “Major culprits are home entertainment appliances, like TVs, stereos, game consoles and computer equipment. Plug them all into multi-plug boards so they can all be turned off properly at the same time. Turn off other appliances like whiteware at the wall too.”
While these tips are useful when you’re looking for smarter ways to use your power and reduce your power bill, the simple fact is that fixed price plans can be costly and uncomfortable, given that the only way to reduce your bills is to use less power. So consider switching to Flick. As a Kiwi consumer, you’ve got the right to NZ’s Fairest Power Deal.